Monte B Cowboy
Aug 3, 2013 7:55am
Re: Your Sunshine Daydream reviews
Game Over: The Worldwide Food System is completely Occupied! So are most consumer products.Counterfeit Food More Widespread Than Suspected
- By STEPHEN CASTLE and DOREEN CARVAJAL, excerpts from article Published in NY Times on June 26, 2013
Investigators have uncovered thousands of frauds, raising fresh questions about regulatory oversight as criminals offer bargain-hunting shoppers cheap versions of everyday products, including counterfeit chocolate and adulterated olive oil, Jacob’s Creek wine and even Bollinger Champagne. As the [recent European] horse meat scandal showed, even legitimate companies can be overtaken by the murky world of food fraud.
“Around the world, food fraud is an epidemic — in every single country where food is produced or grown, food fraud is occurring,” said Mitchell Weinberg, president and chief executive of Inscatech, a company that advises on food security. “Just about every single ingredient that has even a moderate economic value is potentially vulnerable to fraud.”
Speaking at a recent conference organized by the consulting firm FoodChain Europe, Mr. Weinberg added that many processed products contain ingredients like sugar, vanilla, paprika, honey, olive oil or cocoa products that are tainted.
“In response to reduced consumer spending power, counterfeiters have expanded their range of products,” a recent Europol report said. In addition to the traditional counterfeit luxury product, organized crime groups “now also counterfeit daily consumer goods such as detergents, foodstuffs, cosmetic products and pharmaceuticals.”
Shaun Kennedy, associate professor at the University of Minnesota, estimated that 10 percent of food that consumers buy in the developed world was adulterated. Because the profit margins for foodstuffs are often within single digits, “if you dilute by 2 percent, that’s a big deal.” He cited a report from the United States’ Grocery Manufacturers Association saying that economic adulteration and counterfeiting of global food and consumer products was expected to cost the industry $10 billion to $15 billion a year.
Investigators say a huge array of deceptions exist. Simple ones involve presenting cheap products as branded or top-quality ones, like selling catfish as sea bream, labeling farmed salmon as wild or marketing battery-produced eggs as organic or free range. In February, the German authorities began investigating around 160 farms suspected of breaking rules on organic and free-range egg production, for example.
In other cases, cheaper ingredients are added to genuine products to increase profit margins. Sometimes vegetable oil goes into chocolate bars, or pomegranate juice, wine, coffee, honey or olive oil is adulterated with water, sweeteners or cheaper substitutes.
Whenever there is tampering, there are potential risks to health. Indian restaurants in Britain have been prosecuted for adding ground peanuts to almond powder, which poses a risk to allergy sufferers. Food experts say that engine oil is among the substances found in olive oil.
In a weeklong food fraud crackdown last year, the French authorities seized 100 tons of fish, seafood and frogs legs whose origin was incorrectly labeled; 1.2 tons of fake truffle shavings; 500 kilograms, or 1,100 pounds, of inedible pastries; false Parmesan cheese from America and Egypt; and liquor from a Dutch company marketed as tequila. They also found fraudulent Web sites claiming to sell caviar.
Illegally fished and contaminated shellfish often finds its way to fish markets. And even the fish that is safe to eat may not be what consumers think it is; the owner of a fish and chip shop in Plymouth, England, was fined last year for selling a cheaper Asian river fish called panga as cod.
Another fraud is to fake the packaging of well-known brands with writing in a foreign language so consumers believe they have a genuine product that was diverted abroad at a bargain price.
Even religious communities are not immune. In Britain, the Food Standards Agency has warned against drinking Zam Zam water, which is sacred to Muslims and comes from Saudi Arabia. Bottles sold in Britain “may contain high levels of arsenic or nitrates,” the agency said.